Monday, March 4, 2013

A way forward?

Hard to say what Raffi will or could do to save Armenia from his mobocracy. He's like a cat out on a limb, with nowhere to go and the fire companies, local or international, don't seem ready to send a ladder truck to rescue him.

He could try to do what he should have done to begin with and accept the results and acknowledge the failure of his organization to collect enough evidence to prove their wild allegations that he "won." Now the maximalists seem to driving him and the process. It is unclear to what extent he is in control. At some point, the mob dynamic of takes on a life of its own. Demands which were original means to an end become ends in themselves.

He needs to resist the throwing the baby out with the bath water, that is, resist the nihilistic impulse of all mobs to consider everything "futile." He can save face by saying that although he may not have been able to prove he won, he did gather a respectable number of votes. He can thank those who voted for him. He can promise that he will continue to speak out for them in the name of the common good. Now that common good compels us to unite as a nation and work constructively together. He can clarify that the "victory" was in gathering a respectable opposition vote and giving them the opportunity to be heard. He should wish Sargsyan a productive term, urge him to listen to all the people, including and especially those that voted for Raffi and have taken to the streets, and pledge to work with him and all others that share the vision of a safe, just Armenia. The choice is not between safe and just. It must be just in order for it to be safe, and vice versa.

He should urge people to put aside their rancor and ambitions and return to the hard work of building a country. This is not a football match. It is a republic. The game is not over. It is on-going. Citizens and political leaders do not need positions to contribute to the process or to be heard. Vigilance is the price of democracy. Participate, exercise your rights, express your views, but always keep the good of the nation above personal interests or grudges.

The solution is within reach, if there is the will. The question is whether Raffi has moral fiber to do the right thing for the nation.

He should do it before there is blood on the streets - blood changes everything - martyrs to the cause, personal vendettas, never forget, etc.

Later, when things settle, he can "explain" his "street strategy." It was a delay tactic and public relations ploy. He wanted to amplify the voice of the opposition by dragging it out for a week. He also needed time to gather or produce arguments to support his allegation that he won. Had he conceded on the day after the elections, his "victory" for the opposition, might not have been taken seriously, but he and his team wanted to assure that the voice of the discontent registered with the powers-that-be.

That said, these post-elections antics are not likely to have any lasting impact for the purported "cause of justice and freedom." The entire post-election temper tantrum has become ritualized to the point that it is not effective.

The only lasting consequence will be the real harm it did to Armenia's stature internationally. No matter how many mea culpas or how much handwaving, the mob cannot undo the harm to Armenia. Like the Armenian adage goes, the mob has behaved like a fool who rolled a stone into a pit that 10 smart people cannot get out.

Intentionally, or unintentionally, the mob carried the water well for those who want a vulnerable Armenia at the negotiating table for Artsakh and 2015. Irreversibly sacrificing the common good while making people believe they are doing it for the common good. A feat worthy of Unger Panchuni, throwing the vase on the floor and gleefully crying out "I fixed it."

As Lincoln purportedly said, you can fool some of the people all of the time.


  1. Actually, the authorities have been bending over backwards to give Raffi a way out, but he seems to be intent on confrontation and grasping for power. Most of the calls for student strikes, etc. are not originating from students, but are being centrally organized by his coterie. Interestingly, he claims to no longer to have anything to do with the Jarangutyun fraction in parliament. So what exactly is he up to? Having his own people protest against Obama's congratulatory letter to Sargsyan, was beyond bizarre.

    In a week when we have heard so much about Khojalu and regimes using people to take power, it is ironic to see Raffi and his entourage in essence staging mob scenes as a front for his own political aspirations (which are of course always packaged in high sounding rhetoric.)

    If he really cares so much, why hasn't he done more to engage and bring about good policy in Armenia all these years? Why has he been so ineffectual? Does he really think it is just a matter of power and position? If he has those, he have a magic wand to fix what ails Armenia?

  2. So why do you think Raffi continues this useless struggle, instead of taking those oppositional votes and managing them properly?

    Is it because he perfectly knows these are not his votes, but votes "against authorities", and this is the only (and his last) chance he can make use of it?